When Marlee's parents separate and her mother gets a librarian's job at the Venice, California, library, Marlee and her little brother have to move with Mom from a nice house in Woodland Hill to what Marlee describes as a crummy smaller one on a smelly canal. Marlee knows she'll hate sixth grade at the Gertrude Stein Alternative School; she keeps hoping her parents will get back together; and her only comfort comes from old Mr. Tomaro next door, a retired magician who says there's no real magic (his own feats are acts of skill, not ""tricks"") but whose accomplishments seem to demonstrate otherwise. Marlee herself checks Cavendish out of the library and begins to dabble in spells; when magic seems successful in winning her a friend at school, she tries a love potion on her parents. Accepting the failure of that effort is difficult; but both her parents and Mr. Tomaro help her to come to terms with the different kinds of magic. All of this sounds and is a lot like umpteen other young novels of children living through divorce. But Harris is in closer touch than most grownup authors; and Mr. Tomaro is a well-drawn character, a good neighbor, and an impressive magician.